The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) organization involved in the massive 2019 protests in Hong Kong has announced its dissolution. The Chinese government’s crackdown on the democracy movement in the special administrative region left it with no other choice, the CHRF announced Sunday.
“All member groups have been suppressed, and civil society is facing an unprecedented severe challenge,” the organization said. It said it would give its remaining assets of 1.6 million Hong Kong dollars (174,000 euros) to “appropriate groups.”
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CHRF was founded back in 2002. In 2019, the organization joined other groups in calling for protests against a law that would allow extraditions to China by Hong Kong authorities. According to estimates, more than a million people came to the rallies in some cases.
The CHRF explicitly advocates non-violence. However, as the police crackdown on the mass protests became increasingly severe, violent clashes became more frequent. The leadership in Beijing then responded last year with a so-called security law. It allows authorities to take draconian action against any activity they deem to threaten China’s national security.
Many of the leaders of the protests, including former CHRF leaders Jimmy Sham and Figo Chan, have since been arrested or fled abroad. More than 30 civil society groups have already disbanded. Just a few days ago, Hong Kong’s largest labor union, the PTU teachers’ association, announced its dissolution after 50 years of existence.
Critics of China’s Hong Kong policy see the security law as a massive curtailment of the special status of the financial metropolis. When it was handed over to China in 1997, the former British crown colony was granted special rights for 50 years, including freedom of speech and assembly.